Tag Archives: Trew Audio

A Nine-Volt Power Solution

Thankfully I’ve been doing a lot of work lately. And as a result, I’ve been going through a lot of 9v batteries. My Lectrosonics¬†wireless units are quite good in terms of their battery life… I can get about six hours from a Duracell Procell alkaline battery. But running three units all day long, plus a pair for my Shure FP33 means that it’s tough to keep enough batteries on hand. I always like to have a spare unopened case with me, just in case… running out of batteries during a shoot is just not an option.

The iPowerUS Lithium-polymer 9v batteries and charger

Unfortunately, most rechargables do not have enough energy density to be very useful on the set. I’ve tried some 9v NiMH, and they would only last 2 hours in the same application.

There is another option that is available from Trew and other dealers. A company called iPowerUS makes a 520 mAh 9v Lithium-Polymer battery. I had heard about these before, but a DP I worked with recently (Roger Herr, shooting Infested for Animal Planet/Darlow Smithson UK) actually had a set and recommended them, so I finally broke down and invested in a set.

I’m pleased to report that these are working great for me. I can get nearly an entire day in my wireless units from a single charge… even a little more by switching the power off between takes, so I’m not constantly changing batteries. iPower says their batteries will get over 200 charge cycles from each battery, and Trew reports this to be accurate… and in some cases, 200 cycles is a conservative estimate.

The downside is the initial cost… these batteries are initially quite expensive at $23 each in sets of four. (About $30 each with a charger.) But if we do a little math, they are really dirt cheap:

iPower- appx $30 each/200 charges = 30/200 = .15 per use
Procells- appx $20/12 (case)= 1.66 per use

These batteries break even after you’ve used six cases of 9-volts. (Or if you prefer, after being recharged about eleven times.) For me, that’s around 9 or 10 shooting days. These make sense if all you consider is dollars and cents. But more than that, it saves me time and grief not having to order a couple of cases of batteries every time I turn around. They charge in about 45 minutes, and the iPower charger comes with a 12-volt option for car charging… really handy. About the only downside I can think of is they don’t have a AA-sized solution for my Sound Devices gear.

So while it was a momentary pain in the wallet at purchase time, I’m really glad I bit the bullet and bought these batteries. So far, they’re quick, dependable, work great, and save quite a bit of cash and hassle over time.

 

A New Bag Upgrade

I just completed a job in Nashville, and I did some shopping at Trew Audio. One of the things I was interested in was a long-overdue bag upgrade. This time I went with a Petrol bag… a small Deca Eargonizer. My friend John Billings (location sound, studio engineer and session musician in Nashville) bought one recently and likes his, so I brought one home.

The Petrol small Eargonizer bag

The Petrol small Eargonizer bag

There are a number of things that I like about this bag, one of them is space. It’s a bit roomier than my old bag, which means it’s naturally a bit bulkier than before, but not by much. It’s “stiffer” as well, meaning that it’s made with semi-rigid sides. This means more protection for my mixer (though I never felt my gear was vulnerable with my old case). It also allows more flexibility with the configuration. Petrol includes little risers to lift gear up, which works because of the rigid sides.

Actually, Petrol includes a lot of little options and extras. Some will be indispensable for some folks, some will be unneeded for others… but it means I can configure the bag the way I want it, which is a big plus. One item that everyone will like is their wireless pouch… my bag came with a pair, and there are anchor points for two more, which I’ll be ordering directly.

Petrol bags come with a number of risers, dividers, and pockets for custom tailoring the bag to suit various ways of working

Other details that are really handy:

  • Multiple anchor points for the strap, so the bag can be balanced
  • the clear vinyl window flap attaches with velcro on both sides, so it can be removed and stowed out of the way in clear weather.
  • Places to put sharpies and pens (though it doesn’t have a dedicated business card pocket, and I always like to have cards ready to hand out).
  • Cutouts on the inner divider for easier & neater cable routing.

Just to be fair, there are a few small details that I’d personally like to improve. I’d like some more padding on the strap, since I usually run a fairly heavy bag. And some method of attaching transmitters for Comteks or camera hops on the strap, up high and away from the mic receivers, would be cool. But my biggest irritation are connector covers. For some reason most bag manufacturers don’t make them removable, and they are always getting in my way when I need to make fast connection changes in the mixer. I never take my personal gear out in bad weather, since I can’t afford to replace it if it gets damaged, so the connector covers aren’t quite as big an issue as it is with, say, a news crew. At least Petrol makes their covers out of a lighter, more flexible material, but I’d like something that could either be removed or rolled completely out of the way.

The bag from the front. Its center divider can be removed if need be.

This isn’t to say that I don’t still like my Portabrace bag… for me, the Portabrace is better for my old¬†Shure FP33, since its smaller & lighter. That’s my rig of choice when I need to be very mobile. (Portabrace doesn’t list the FP33 anymore on their website, but there should still be plenty of bags for them around.)

Overall, though, I think the Petrol is a great bag and I expect to get many years of work out of it. By listing my old bag (that wasn’t really that old at all) with Trew’s consignment program, the net cost of my upgrade was pretty small… a successful trip, I think.